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The Communicators

News/Business. People who shape the digital future.

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00:30:00

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San Francisco, CA, USA

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Comcast Cable

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Channel 91 (627 MHz)

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mpeg2video

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ac3

PIXEL WIDTH
704

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480

TOPIC FREQUENCY

Sandy 9, Us 9, Manhattan 5, Mr. Mudge 5, Mr. Guttman-mccabe 3, Christopher Guttman-mccabe 3, Fema 2, Katrina 2, Fcc 2, Etc. 2, Robert Mudge 2, Verizon 2, Logically 1, New York 1, The At&t 1, At&t 1, The Wireless Association 1, Pentagon 1, New Navy 1, Ctia 1,
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  CSPAN    The Communicators    News/Business. People who  
   shape the digital future.  

    November 26, 2012
    8:00 - 8:29am EST  

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morning at 8 eastern through monday morning at 8 eastern. nonfiction books all weekend, every weekend right here on c-span2. >> coming up on c-span2, "the communicators" with a discussion on how hurricane sandy affected communications and what it revealed about telecommunication systems during emergencies. then vice president and others are in attendance at a pentagon announcement of a new navy submarine called the uss delaware. and later the senate returns at 2 p.m. eastern from its thanksgiving recess with a possible vote on the sportsmen's bill. that would allow for more recreational hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities in national parks. >> host: well, one of the major effects of hurricane sandy was on telecommunications, and that's our topic this week on "the communicators." christopher guttman-mccabe is the vice president of ctia, the
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wireless association. they represent all the wireless companies. mr. guttman-mccabe, overall what was the effect of sandy on your member organizations, the verizons, the at&ts, sprints, etc. >> guest: sure, peter, and thanks for having me back. if you don't mind, i wouldn't mind taking a half step back and providing perspective on this storm and ultimately the impact that it had. if you listen to mayor bloomberg who said that the damage was unprecedented, that it maybe the worst storm that the city has ever faced and the tidal surge previous high was 10 feet, for this storm was 14. governor christie said the damage in new jersey was unthinkable. i mean, we had fires, we had hurricane-force winds, we had massive flood, we had sleet and snow. if you look at that and the flooding through the subway systems and the shutdown of the stock exchanges, you start to get a sense of the massive scale
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and scope of this storm, and yet the networks performed. i've read dozens of stories about how for many consumers their only tie to any sort of information or to people was through their smartphone, you know, linking social media and their smartphone. so while there was, obviously, an impact on cell sites, i think the networks performed really, really pretty well. >> host: 25% of cell towers went down? were they -- are cell towers hurricane proof? >> guest: sure. well, first of all, i think it's important to note when you say 25% of cell towers were impacted, that doesn't mean 25% of service was impacted. cell towers, some of them are capacity-based to add additional capacity maybe in rush hour or high traffic areas, but a lot of them are to provide basic service. when you say 25% were impacted, that doesn't mean service was down by that. obviously, some were impacted, and our powers rely on two things; power and backhaul. and each one could have an impact on whether or not that
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tower's up and running. and i think we found out in sandy that it was about even, the split. some of it was was that there was a lack of power, and by power we're not talking hours. in many instances we have people who are without power now. we're talking days and weeks without power. and yet we were able to get, you know, generators in there, get additional fuel, make sure that the, you know, where towers went down that were critical towers we got them up pretty quickly, and as an industry i think you saw those numbers, really the next day went down and day after that went down, and you saw creative efforts by carriers, some of them linking networks together, you know, others really getting fuel very quickly out to the generators so that the cell sites were back up and running. so i think it was, i think you saw, and it seems like the press sort of has proved this out that there were a lot of folks who were able to utilize their phones in spite of the fact that there wasn't power and the land
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lines weren't working. >> host: well, mr. guttman-mccabe, if we could talk about that land line issue because a lot of people have kept those land lines for so-of called emergencies, and it appears right now, it looks like the wireless phones were more reliable than the fiberoptic, the noncopper type wire lines. >> guest: sure. and, you know, the reality is, again, we're talking a storm of almost biblical proportions. so it had an impact on the wire line networks. but it also had an impact on the subways, and it had an impact on all transportation and bridges and tunnels. and so, you know, the reality is this was something that caused some serious, you know, some serious impact on infrastructure. and yet i think as you say, you know, the wireless networks performed pretty well. and part of that is the efforts by the carriers in advance of the storm to preposition materials, to make sure that they had back-up supplies in place and that wherever possible
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they do have back-up power. and in instances where they could, they brought in satellite trucks to actually use satellite to backhaul the information, avoiding -- where it was necessary, avoiding the land line networks and using satellite. using generators, using batteries to really try and keep the network up and running. >> host: now, what about b emergency communications? how were they affected? >> guest: the psaps, the public safety answering points, the folks who field 911 calls, very few of them went down. they're sort of consolidated so they don't have a lot of areas that they have to really protect. so we saw that 911 worked well, and i think the mayor's office in new york city talked about, boy, use text where you can. i think that's a good message to deliver to consumers. use texting wherever you can, leave the phone calls to 911, to the really important calls. and otherwise use texting or use
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your data connections to gather information. >> host: did the spectrum get flooded with information and overloading? >> guest: sure. their, i mean, usage was pretty tremendous, and we found this out wherever you have an issue where there's people who need information, you find that the networks really get flooded. i saw numbers two, three, four, five hundred to 15,000% increases on some web sites. and you saw in a lot of the application stores that the apps that quickly ran to the top were those that gave you access to information or the mobile flash light, i think, was one of the other ones that really found sort of a lot of people downloading it. but there was a surge in traffic; but i didn't see numbers that suggested there was a significant amount of call blocking or dropping. i think the networks handled the surge pretty well. >> host: now, we're taping this interview on november 15th, and i was in lower manhattan last night and had a lot of trouble
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connecting on my ipad and on my cell phone. is that still due to sandy? >> guest: yeah. i mean, we -- there are still areas in lower manhattan and the boroughs that don't have power, and in those instances, i mean, one of our carriers is using 100,000 gallons of fuel a day. that's just one carrier with 1500 generators that are going. so, you know, there will be a time period before we get back up to full capacity again, but that isn't, you know, for lack of trying. i think it's important to repeend mind people that the -- remind people that the folks who run these companies are consumers, they're family members. their goal is to make sure these networks are up and running both personally and professionally. and i think you've seen that. some of the employees' houses were destroyed, they moved into, you know, company quarters, they moved into some of the, you know, the store fronts to actually run their operations from there, and, you know, it's an effort when you see a storm
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of this magnitude. it's really an effort to try to get everything back to completely status quo. >> host: christopher guttman-mccabe, your industry prevented or fought fcc recommendations that there be back-up power at cell towers, etc. , and last week on a blog post you said that 8-hour mandated back-up power would not have been a panacea anyway because of this storm. >> guest: well, if you think of this storm, and if you can visualize the scope of the storm as it approached the coast, the storm wasn't even through the areas when the eight hours had passed, right? many people lost their power, and the storm was still hitting them for another 12-24 hours. and for certain areas we're talking 360-400 hours without power. and so when you look at it in the context of a sort of mandated eight-hour back-up requirement, certainly it would not. i mean, logically, it would not have been a panacea.
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and what we saw with our industry was the ability to react flexibly, to be able to relocate assets from areas that weren't hard hit and to utilize resources in a way that makes the networks run well. i think if you look back at the hurricane katrina recommendations before the fcc acted, those recommendations were for a voluntary, flexible framework. and so that's what we were pushing. we don't disagree with the goal of the fcc to keep the networks running, of course we don't. that's in every carrier's best interests, it's in the industry's best interests. it's just how do you go about doing this. and so for us when you look at a storm of this magnitude, it's having the ability to react, to move assets around. we had carriers that had to put in, you know, thousands of feet of power cables to drag, you know, cables up to the rooftop to power generators so that we could have cell sites working. >> host: well, let's go back to katrina in '05. what kind of investment have
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wireless companies done to improve their reliability during such emergencies? >> guest: sure. so you see carriers in every instance where it's possible putting in back-up power, and you can imagine instances where it's not. we put towers in on church steeples, we put them on the side of buildings in mayor metropolitan areas, you know, in closets within buildings. and it becomes difficult in certain areas to have back-up power. and yet, you know, the carriers try to put in batteries where they can't put in generators. where they can put in generators, they put it in with as much fuel as allowed, but when you're working with zoning restrictions or environmental laws and limitations, you know, you have to work within those confines. and the yeaiers learn something -- carriers learn something with every natural disaster or every storm that they face. they learn what is the right floor to put equipment on, what is the right floor to put -- how much fuel do you need, how many, you know, we call cows and colts which are cell sites on wheels
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or light trucks. and the carriers get better. they learn how to work with fuel vendors in advance so that they have this hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel in reserve. they learn how to coordinate with first responders in advance and before, during and after. we meet with fema and the department of homeland security and the fcc in advance of a storm like this, in the lead-up in the days, you know, while it's happening and in the days of after on multiple, multiple calls to make sure that the folks have their right credentials in the place to be able to get through blockades that public safety puts in place. so, you know, the investment is ongoing, and it's tremendous to make sure that these networks continue to run. >> what's the cost of this storm to your member organizations? >> guest: you know, it's not something that i don't think anyone really looks at. i think they look at it as part of, you know, the business of making sure their networks are up and running, that consumers continue to get served. i haven't seen a number, i don't
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expect that i will. but, again, i don't think it's -- i mean, obviously, it's important in the context of, you know, of the companies continuing to operate, but it pales in comparison to the desire to keep the networks up and running. >> host: will consumers see a rate increase because of the costs? >> guest: you know, i don't expect so, but, you know, we generally don't really focus on those sorts of things at the trade association. but, again, when you look at the efforts and the desire to keep the networks running, that is something that's paramount to these companies. >>st and finally, mr. guttman-mccabe, if you attend or if the fcc, you know, has an oversight hearing or looks at this issue of sandy and telecommunications, what's your, what's your top line to them? what are you going to tell them? >> guest: so, you know, again, we share the same goals as any government official which is to make sure that the networks are up and running. and i think it would just be a matter of maintaining, you know, and insuring that there's education, that people understand the scale and scope
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of this disaster, that carriers did a lot to preportion terms, that the -- preposition materials and that they were up and running and then work with public safety and work with government officials to make sure that people have access to fuel when it's necessary, that they can get their supplies through, that they're not subject to parking restrictions or restrictions on high occupancy vehicle lanes that, you know, fuel isn't confiscated at certain areas. and new york and new jersey did a great job. but there are always lessons to learn. >> host: christopher guttman-mccabe is the vice president of regulatory affairs at ctia, the wireless association. you're watching "the communicators" on c-span. and now joining us from basking ridge, new jersey, is robert mudge who is the president of consumer and mass business markets for verizon. mr. mudge, what was the overall
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effect of hurricane sandy on verizon in the northeast? >> guest: hi, peter, thank you for having me, and i want to get right into that, but first, i can't help but say how much my heart goes out to all the people i've seen and the millions of impacted customers and other people from this storm. and it's been great to be out with our employees and see what people are coming through together. so, peter, this was a pretty impactful storm, as you know. it hit us right, right in the middle of our operating area in new jersey and calm at us -- came at us with a path that was a thousand miles wide. so it impacted us both in our physical distribution plant, our poles and our cables as you might expect both from the wind and from the storm surge and in our central office facilities where we lost power, and our back-up power process really had to kick in and carry over 300 central offices that were impacted at the peak of the
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storm. >> host: so how many, how many folks lost power, has everybody gotten it back on? if you could speak to that. >> guest: sure. so, you know, we had based on, again, the width of the footprint, we had, we had upwards to five and a half, six million of our customers who had lost power. so folks really felt the impact and, again, we felt that on the central office side also. at the peak of the storm, we had over a million customers or out of service. all of the fios customers as soon as power came back, most of their service was restored. and now a couple weeks later we're doing the final touches on the physical replacement of poles and cables. because in many cases we had to work with or go in after the power was restored, and we were safe and it was able for our folks to work aloft or even in some of the manholes. so one of the lessons learned
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was that fiber is very resilient, and we had good success with that network. on the central office side, we had other, you know, very important impact. many people are aware of the impact on southern manhattan where the storm surge actually took out the power plants from both our west street and broad street central offices, which is, again, right down in that southern tip of manhattan. but we had almost 300 others. all of those central offices are back one way or another. the vast majority are on commercial power. we have a handful that are still on our generators including broad street, and by partner and i, tony malone, expect the broad street co to be back on commercial power within a matter of days. >> host: now, mr. mudge, are there limits to cell phone and internet technology when it comes to an emergency like this? i mean, 40% of americans are now land lineless, they don't have land lines anymore, just cell
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phones. >> guest: well, the cell phone network, again, i can speak a little bit more broadly. each at the height of the -- even at the height of the storm, our wireless network was operating at 94% capacity. we're already back to full capacity prestorm. so i think many people, peter, not just through the telecommunications, but with the power outage, you know, learned and found out that electricity is very important along with telecommunications. so i think it's a reminder that for many of our customers that good wireless service and good wire line service is very helpful, because they can help offset each other. >> host: now, do the so-called triple play packages that that e offered by the cell phone companies and verizon and others, do they have the same reliability as the old style telephones with the copper wires, etc. >> guest: it does. i think there's a little difference in the architecture that make it a little bit
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different, but by and large we've seen that fiber is, in fact, more resilient than copper. when the power's out, it will impact fios, although we do have a battery back-up so there could be emergency call, and then again going back to your other point where there's a crossover with wireless usage, you know, that gives customers a lot of comfort in terms of their ability to make an emergency call or reach a loved one. when the power's out and tvs are down and pcs are down, then that internet and tv usage is kind of impacted more broadly than just the telecommunications. but, again, we really found that once we got power back we actually returned service back to our fios customers, our fiber customers quicker than we have with some of our copper customers. i happened to be in long beach, long island on one of our worksites just the other day, and i think it's a really good example. it's a community with about 16,000 customers. our camper plant we're still -- car per plant we're still trying
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to repair, and i expect we'll migrate over to fiber because 10,000 fios customers in that community are back in service. so i think, peter, you know, a hurricane is one thing, a snowstorm can be another, day-to-day thunderstorms. i think the context of reliability needs to be thought through many different potential events, not just one. and our data is very clear, the fiber is more resilient in a storm, and it has greater opportunity for faster restoral. >> host: mr. mudge, if i could, i'd like to get you to respond to what a member of the fcc had to say about hurricane sandy and telecommunications. she said: it is time for an honest conversation about network reliability in the wireless and digital age. >> guest: it's an interesting question. i think it's one we've been asking ourselves at verizon,
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though, for decades. if you think about our wireless networks, they're all backed up with battery, most with generators. if you think about our central offices that lost power, again, 300 central offices, we actually have belt and suspenders on top of commercial power. we have batteries and we have generators, and our preparation before the storm had us out starting generators, topping off fuel and putting personnel in key locations. so i think it's a good question, but it's one i'm confident that at verizon we've already asked, we'll continue to ask, and there'll be room for improvement. we want to continuously get better as we manage power, but i'm very comfortable with where we sit today and how well we've come through this storm. >> host: now, what has been improved since katrina in 2005 or even this past summer or 9/11 b? >> guest: well, it's interesting. i was thinking about our discussion today, and i was thinking a little bit about 9/11. so i think part of what's
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improved, peter, is that we're a team that we ourselves are resilient. we know how to handle major disaster, and i think going through 9/11 toughened up the entire team. i think it also reminded us that we have a very vast company here with assets and networks across wireless, wire line, traditional wire line fios that together both in providing normal services and in times of recovery really give us the power to respond to customers faster. i also think, again, if we go back in recent times our dedication to making sure that the back-up power works, that it's reliable, we run it monthly on our generators, sometimes weekly, and we're prepared and we plan for these outages. so i think that's been a strong reminder also, peter. >> host: now, mr. mudge, according to reports about 25% of cell towers went out of service because of hurricane
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sandy in the area, and "the wall street journal" recently is this paragraph: >> host: wireless carriers successfully sued to block the rule arguing that they needed flexibility in the how they provided backup power. are cell tower for verizon backed up? >> guest: yes, they are. they have battery backup and, again, most have an emergency generator on them. and those that don't we can serve with the generator within a matter of hours. and i put that, again, from a factual standpoint where even at the peak of the storm with the vast power outages that we had up and down the coast, 93% of our -- 94% of our cell towers were operating. we were close to 99% within a matter of two days, and can we're back to full service right now. >> host: now, in a press release that verizon sent out, you talked about telephone poles and how many telephone poles you've
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had to replace. nearly 8,000. what's the cost of that? >> guest: well, it's quite a cost, and we're still adding up the cost. but, you know, we're not really accounting for -- this isn't a time for us to be really as focused on cost as perhaps my cfo would like. we've been very focused on getting the poles in quickly. in fact, we prepurchased 9,000 of those poles in advance and prepositioned them before the storm. so we'll clearly have in terms of the network and the customer base that i manage, you know, costs in the millions, but i really don't have a number yet that we've racked and stacked in total, but it will be substantial. >> host: do you know offhand how much one telephone pole costs? >> guest: yeah. a typical telephone pole can run anywhere from blood pressure $300 up to $700, and it literally depends on the width of the pole which is the class and the height of that pole. >> host: and finally, mr. mudge,
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what happened down in lower manhattan, and you talked about the flooding down there and the power going out in your network areas, but is there a, is there a thought of moving those facilities out of lower manhattan? >> guest: at this time, peter, there really isn't, and i'll tell you why. the issue was really power related. our switch gear and our telecommunications gear stayed intact and was operational. where that entire area, all businesses, were overwhelmed was with the unprecedented storm surge. as we rebuild that area, peter, we're relocating and redoubling our efforts to be with the power network. so some of the cases where we had our power plant below grade level or at ground level, we're done with this repositioning we expect to have a lot more fiber in the ground which is more resilient, and we'll have a
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power plant that will be more able to handle a storm surge like that if, god forbid, we ever got something that bad again. >> host: robert mudge is president of the consumer and mass business markets for verizon. you're watching "the communicators" on c-span. and as we continue our look at telecommunications and the um pact that sandy -- the impact that sandy had especially in the northeast, we're joined by harold feld, senior vice president of the consumer interest group public knowledge. we've talked to both ctia and to verizon. both groups, both organizations said that wireless service particularly did well during sandy. what's your assessment? >> guest: my assessment here is some networks did well, some networks did less well, but we don't really have solid information about this because there are no reporting requirements on these networks, there are no standards by which we measure their performance,
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and it's entirely voluntary whether they want to talk to the fcc or not or talk to their state and local governments or not. so i take their word for it that they responded well. i also have an ec coatally heard that some of these guys maybe did less well, and i think a first step is we have to find out who did well, who didn't do well and how we make sure that everybody's doing well. >> and how do we get to, how do we make sure everybody's doing well? >> guest: well, back in the election mitt romney said in a primary that, you know, if you can delegate stuff like fema from the federal government to the states or even better to the private sector, then that's better. and then sandy hit, and everybody understood, you know, in an emergency having some federal coordination is good, having some basic federal rules that tell everybody how to behave in a crisis when you don't want to take the time to think it up from scratch, that's good. and the same thing's true in telecommunications.
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we have delegated to the private sector all of our emergency response for our cellular networks or these new what we call ip or internet protocol-based networks like cable/company service like vonage. so when it comes to the old copper network, the old telephone network, we know all about that. we have crews on call, it's self-powered, reliability was built into that thing from day one. that's why new yorkers were scrambling for pay phones when they couldn't get their cell and their cable service to work. we don't need to take the old rules from the ma bell days and put them on top of all these new networks, but we do need to have the federal government and the state governments take a look at what happened and figure out what are the ground rules, what are the things that you want to have in place before an emergency hits and what are the things you need to be doing before a crisis so that when the crisis hits, everybody's
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operating on the same page, everybody's moving as quickly as they can, and everybody's able to do the best job that they can restoring critical service services. >> host: well, as somebody who watches telecommunications, somebody who's involved in the media access project for years and with public knowledge, what do you think the starting point should be for mandated service or mandated rules? >> guest: well, i think the starting point is actually we need to take a look at what happened. and that means the first kind of mandated thing is you're going to sit down, and you're going to tell us honestly what happened. it can be, you know, in a private conversation with the regulators, but don't give us your little 8x10 glossy, don't just tell us how wonderful it was and forget the fact that you didn't have enough trucks online or whatever it was. tell us honestly what worked and what didn't. the next step from that i would say is everybody ought to file an emergency preparedness plan, and that ought to be with the federal communications
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commission and with the state emergency responders so that, okay, we need to know what's your assessment of how strong your network is and what do you have in place so that if that 100-year hurricane -- and from what we've all been hearing, we're going to have a lot more of those 100-year hurricanes hitting -- everybody knows what your plan is. this will force the companies to actually go through and have a plan rather than just our plan is to really, hope we get 99 good years. and we, as the public through the federal communications commission and the state agencies, will know what the plan is in place. the next thing that's equally important is we've got to have a common language of how we're talking about this. when we talk about things like network reliability and how long are things up, different networks mean different things when they say it. so it's not like at&t is lying when they say, oh, we think our network held unfairly well and reliably, and